By Frank Bell
Berlin based smart music connoisseur Lukasz Polowczyk, with his project Aint About Me, has formerly shared stages with names like MIA, Missy Elliot and El-P. Today he presents, on the anniversary of 9/11, the first cut from upcoming LP Aint About Me , titled Watching Tarot Card XVI Come to Life, produced and composed by Jan Wagner.
The experimental spoken word gem reflects on mortality, and processing something which is impossible to digest. Although not implicitly in the piece, it calls for deeper reflection on massive society shaping global events and their weaponization a by the powers that be.
Aint About Me is set to be self-released on 22.11 as a series of capsule collections featuring prints, tapes and a book, with 24 kt gold detailing on the covers of 7 tapes that combine together to form the bone artwork from the LP cover art.
So Lukasz…What Is The Song About?
This song isn’t really about 9/11! it’s about being in a situation which forces you to face your own mortality, and accept the fact that you will die! Possibly soon. It just so happens that in my case this happened on September 11th. After seeing the towers collapse, right in front of me, as the smoke was literally snuffing out everything around me, I heard planes flying overhead, and I knew already that all flights were cancelled, and when I looked up I saw these fighter jets. I didn’t know yet that they were American and had been deployed to protect the city. My auto-response was: it’s a wrap! That I’ll be gone in a flash. So I just sat down on this rooftop and started to meditate! Because I didn’t know what else to do. Because what can you do when you think you’re about to die? You’re definitely not in a rational state of mind, either. It’s such a wild feeling! You’re so alert! Wired! I’ve had similar experiences in my dreams before, but not like this. And that kiss that I mentioned at the beginning of the song, in the first verse, that isn’t a reference to a girl, it’s about having this intimate meeting with death. Her coming so close to you, entering your personal space, like only a lover could.
Does 9/11 Mean Anything Today?
The significance of this day as far as its influence on politics and society has been waning for years , but the world that we are currently living in is a definitely product of that single event, and the way it had been weaponised by different agencies. On that back of this event the Middle East was plowed through, the image of Arabs and Muslims tarnished, our civil liberties curtailed, surveillance on civilians maximised and the Police militarised, and not only in the United States! If you’ve been following recent events in the US, you saw what it means to have a Police force that operates like the military. COVID is slowly replacing 9/11 as far as an event that will shape society for many years to come, and you can already see some of the first fruits of that, and how this event is being weaponised by different players all over the world. It would be wise for us to take a last look at 911 and understand how it had impacted the world, because it could help us, as citizens, in co-architecting the next iteration of society.
Tell us everything we should know about the Record…
If I can say anything about this record is that it’s honest to the bone marrow! And also that there isn’t anything quite like it out there. It’s a pure spoken word record across the board. There are no guest vocalists on it, nor any hooks to sweeten the torrent of words. It also manages to connect the dots between Saul Williams and Gil Scott Heron, Laurie Anderson and maybe even Kendrick in some regards. I mention Kendrick, because he has these multiple voices that he uses. I might not be as extreme as him, but I’m also not sticking to a single style. This reliance on a single style is what made spoken word records so dry. It was as if these artists were copy and pasting their voice over different music without listening to it.
Another thing that I love about this record is that it was made by this wild cast of players. Everyone who played on it comes from the improv scene, no one is really stuck or formatted genre-wise. Everyone is committed to playing their truth, but they also know how to blend into a composition and play what it needs. So there’s Ramón Oliveras on drums, Tobias Preisig on violins, Petter Eldh on bass, Simon Spiess on clarinet and sax and Benedikt Wieland on bass. Jan Wagner produced the whole thing, he’s also responsible for all the synths and the sound design. He was also my “truth barometer”. I don’t know that many musicians or producers with this extreme sensitivity to emotional truth.
All of the songs were played off the grid, no metronome, not looped beats and we made sure that none of them were ever overcooked – one to three takes to nail something max! So the whole thing feels very organic. Nothing was premeditated, it all just sort of happened! In a way I understand now, what artists mean when they say: I didn’t write that, it wrote itself.